My love-hate relationship with Chinese restaurants & my version of fried rice
We love eating out. My latest favourite Chinese joint is Dynasty on S.V. Road, Santacruz. For one, its close to home and secondly, the aroma of soy sauce and schezwan sauce beckons you inside. The only downside is that, on weekends there is a minimum wait time of 45 minutes, and they take reservations only upon arrival.
Its happened on so many Sundays that we end up going to a new place to eat, and on our way back, I say,_ 'Isse toh achcha hum ghar par hi khaate' -_Loosely translated, it means, we would have been better off eating at home. Either the food wouldn't be all that great or the server would have been off-putting. A Chinese meal at made at home is fast, flavourful and filling. How's that for an alliteration?
A real super-fast menu would start with a Knorr Vegetable Soup modified into a lip-smacking Veg Mein Chow soup-ask me how? Actually I'm all eager to share this idea with you. But more about that in some other post. The salad would be Ginto. Ok, ok, I admit this is Thai and not Chinese. But what the heck-it goes fantastic with the spicy soup. I think I'll write about this salad and soup together sometime.
Now on with the rice. I've seen the kitchens in some of the Chinese restaurants, all in Bombay ofcourse. Havnen't made the trip to China yet. I have been thinking if I will ever be able to make it, especially after hearing an episode where my vegetarian friend was served a little snake (yeah snake, not snack) all coiled up as a garnish on top of his 'veg' rice. I didn't find that amusing at all.
Getting back to kitchens in Chinese restaurants, their Wok is filled with oil 1/4 th of the way to the top. They quickly dump in the customary green chillies, ginger and garlic, almost deep fry the veggies and add the cooked rice or noodles with the sauces. And all this happens while you were blinking. While I do like the tastes, this kind of cooking, doesn't do much for my health-conscious soul. If I wanted to eat deep fried food, I'd go for a _samosa _guys, not fried rice.
Anyway, so that's how I end up making my own version of fried rice that tastes as good if not better and feels good to be eating too.
Feel free to use any vegetables you have on hand. The day I made this, I had some fresh green beans that I had stringed, cut and saved. So green beans fried rice it was. And because I always have onions and frozen peas on hand, it wasn't a bad idea to add those too.
I prefer putting in a whole lot of vegetables into the rice, so that each spoonful gives me almost as much of vegetables as much as rice. You may cut down on the veggies if they don't excite you much.
Chinese fried rice
- In a wok, heat the oil. Throw in the sesame seeds first. Once they start turning golden, put in the ginger, garlic, chillies. Saute for 30 seconds, don't let the garlic brown please.
- Now, put the veggies in. Add a pinch of salt. Saute them for 2-3 minutes, until their rawness is gone but crunch is maintained. Mix in the rice, soy sauce, vinegar, spice powder, pepper. Check for salt and adjust.
- You may garnish with freshly chopped coriander if you wish.
- Eat just like that or with a salad.
Note:~While making this may take a little more time than what the chef in your local Chinese take-away does, it is still very quick. The only effort is in cleaning and chopping the beans. If you have a pack of frozen beans-then this wont take you more than 10 minutes :)
~It is also a great way of finishing up left-over rice
Green beans are a great source of Beta-Carotene, Vitamin C, copper and Manganese making it a super-anti oxidant food. I could go on and on about the benefits of this humble vegetable, but that's matter for my weekly column. After a long break, I'd like to send this for Cate's ARF Tuesdays.